More Efforts Underway to Curtail Cell Phone Use While Driving

New Jersey experienced an 18% increase in fatal car accidents during the first quarter of 2011. Officials attribute this rise, at least in part, to distracted driving.(1) High on the list of distractions for motorists is the use of cell phones and State officials are taking steps to change this behavior. If, after reading the following, you need a car accident lawyer in Hunterdon County or the surrounding areas to assist you in a similar situation regarding traffic violations, contact the Ragland Law Firm in Lebanon, N.J.

Since March of 2008, talking on a hand-held cell phone and/or texting has been a primary offense in New Jersey, meaning police may stop and ticket a driver solely for the reason of witnessing that driver using a hand-held device. Today such an offense carries a $100 fine and no points on the driver’s license.(2) But that may soon change. There are five bills before the Legislature which, if passed, would give New Jersey the distinction of having the toughest cell phone use laws on the books.(1)

Among the major consequences of the pending legislation would be a graduated increase in the amount of fines associated with distracted driving and the possible suspension of a driver’s license. According to reports, fines under the new law would start at $200 for the first offense and climb to $600 for the third and subsequent offenses. Drivers would also be subject to suspension of their driver’s license for 90 days for third and subsequent offenses.(1)

According to State law enforcement agencies, some 10,000 traffic tickets are written each month for violations of the State’s cell phone use laws.(1) The issuance of traffic tickets has long been a source of contention between police and the general public, with the latter sometimes looking at tickets as merely a fundraising gimmick. At least one neighboring community is taking steps to combat this notion.

During the month of December, law enforcement officials throughout Somerset County will not issue tickets for violating cell phone laws. Instead, drivers stopped for such offenses will be given warning citations and 15 days in which to view a video titled “The Last Text” and answer questions related to the video in lieu of a fine. This is part of the county’s “Put It Down” campaign designed to educate the public to the dangers of using a cell phone while behind the wheel.(3)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the risk of serious accidents is about four times higher for drivers engaged in hand-held cell phone use than for drivers who refrain. Efforts are underway to reduce this risk through education and changing laws.

When there has been a car accident, whether it is related to cell phone use or not, the individuals involved need legal representation; contact the car accident lawyers at Ragland Law Firm. With a location on Route 22 in Lebanon, NJ, Ragland Law Firm is conveniently located minutes off of Route 78.

(1) http://handsfreeinfo.com/new-jersey-cell-phone-laws-legislation

(2) http://njsaferoads.com/phone_down_overview.html

(3) http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20111130/NJNEWS/311300022/Put-Down-campaign-Drivers-using-cellphones-will-watch-video-pay-fine?odyssey=nav%7Chead